20 August 2011
This is the time of year in which we reassess our style and move it forward, or so the style bibles would have us believe. For many women however, this is no easy task. Be it starting their first job, having children or entering middle age, they feel like they are in a style wilderness. Now it is my firm belief that figures such as Trinny and Susannah and Gok Wan are a mixed blessing at best. What they are doing is imposing their own style rules on generally reluctant women who are at the bottom of the confidence pile. A wholesale change of image is easy only for people such as Madonna or David Bowie, for us mere mortals, we need to ease ourselves into change gently.
First of all you are going to need the help of a good honest friend. Not one of those snarky friends who can never give a compliment, but the ones who tell you when you've got lippy on your teeth or that you look amazing.
Next look at who your style idols are. What are your favourite colours? BTW if you are going to use a company such as Colour Me Beautiful, I can't help you but a qualified Counsellor might. What about your lifestyle? What are the constraints of your day to day living? There is no point investing in stripper shoes when you spend all day running round.
Once you have a better idea of how you want to look, ease yourself in gently. If you normally only wear black shoes, buy a bright coloured pair. If your usually foot attire is ballet pumps, then what about brogues or loafers? Or maybe to be hot on this season's money, and buy a pair of chelsea boots. Scarves are a great way of adding a bit of pizzazz without a major commitment and ideal for subtly shifting your mindset about your style. Once you have got past this initial shock and you've realised you love wearing your new scarf, shoes or bag. Go shopping again and buy a new jumper or dress, with the advice of a good friend who won't let you stray back into the wrong territory, you will be climbing out of that rut without realising it.
I do feel there are some bits of further advice which I should impart in order to stop you making expensive mistakes or to add the rut clambering.
Black! Now unless you are living in the Goth/EMO side of town, avoid as your neutral of choice. It is very harsh on especially winter skin. Can look frumpy and unless in a good quality fabric usually looks cheap. One thing which will improve anyones wardrobe is binning those shapeless polyester trousers that one woman in three seems to wear for work under the mistaken illusion they look smart. They don't, they look horrendous and sloppy and if anything is going to make you feel awful on a bad day, these will.
If you don't normally wear lots of jewellery, it's unlikely you will start now. It is a great way to jazz up a look, but some women can do it and the rest of us just get irritated by all the clanking. Instead buy some discreet costume jewellery, Made, sold in Whistles does a lovely range. This goes for hats, tricky to pull off with panache, and anything else which is the opposite of what you currently find comfortable.
Breaking out of a style rut should not make you feel self conscious, it should put a skip in your step and a smile on your face every time you catch a glimpse of yourself.
The picture of Francois Hardy is just because she is one of my style (and musical) heroes and if anyone can inspire you it is she.